Pork Industry Outlook: Average Dressed Weights and Market Trends

Overview of Production and Prices

In May, the average dressed weights of hogs remained above last year’s levels, showing no signs of the usual seasonal decline. Despite a slight decrease in hog slaughter numbers, estimated federally inspected (FI) pork production remained virtually unchanged from a year ago. The current 2024 dressed weight data indicate a counter-seasonal trend, with weights exceeding year-ago values and not yet declining into June.

Market Dynamics

Hog prices in April and May showed significant year-over-year increases, with prices averaging $66.16 per cwt in May, nearly 20% higher than the previous year. This trend continued into early June, supported by strong wholesale pork prices. The wholesale value of the pork carcass cutout in May was $100.25 per cwt, up over 21% from May 2023.

Seasonal Trends and Forecasts

Higher-priced competing proteins have made pork an attractive option in both retail and food service markets. The second-quarter hog prices are expected to average $66 per cwt, more than 16% higher than last year, while third-quarter prices are forecasted to be slightly lower year-over-year. Pork production for the second quarter is projected to be 6.7 billion pounds, up 2% from last year due to a larger pig crop and higher dressed weights.

Export Market Performance

U.S. pork exports in April were 656 million pounds, a 13% increase from last year, driven by strong shipments to Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Exports to Mexico, in particular, saw a 30% year-over-year increase, accounting for 38% of April exports. The steady value of the Mexican peso and falling prices of favored cuts contributed to this growth.


The USDA’s June 2024 outlook highlights a stable pork market with higher dressed weights and strong domestic and export demand. Despite seasonal challenges, the industry shows resilience with positive projections for the coming months. The upcoming USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report will provide further insights into inventory and production trends.

For more detailed information and analysis, you can view the full report on the USDA ERS website.